Saskatoon Transit is being lauded as “moving into the 21st Century” with the purchase of 26 new buses over the last few months.
The 40-foot buses are expected to save the company $40,000 in maintenance costs per bus, tallying up to a total annual savings of approximately $1 million.
The new vehicles are set to replace older buses, which are ready to retire from service. The old models will be stripped for parts before being sent to the junkyard.
Saskatoon Transit Director Jim McDonald told reporters 11 of the buses arrived in November and are already in service. The other 15 were unveiled in a ceremony Tuesday morning at the Civic Operations Centre.
The new buses don’t have stairs at the entry or exit doors of the bus, making them more accessible for people living with disabilities. They also feature two wheelchair bays near the front, where seats can be flipped up to make way with hooks to hold the chair in place.
Brighter, white LED lights display the route on the exterior to help those waiting see which bus is coming, while drivers will be assisted by automatic passenger counters on the new models.
The buses add to a growing fleet of new additions in the last two years, which totals 32 40-foot, eight 30-foot and 10 Access Transit buses.
All new models are funded through a $24-million contribution from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund — a joint funding project using federal money to improve local transit options.
While the new buses are more fuel efficient, they don’t use hybrid engines.
McDonald said Saskatoon Transit has avoided buying anymore hybrids for the time being because the vehicles didn’t meet “fuel efficiency standards.”
The purchase of the new buses is expected to reduce the average age of the fleet from 12 to seven years.
The maintenance savings are expected to be redirected to other expenses within Saskatoon Transit.